Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last Night's Request #1: Egg Rolls (Hospitality EVENTuality)

As is typical of many family's Christmas holidays, people visited at different times, striving to be together for at least one day/night.  This year, for a hospitable send-off, the next guests to leave were invited to choose the menu (or meal item) for their final dinner.  (I don't mean to sound penal.) 

Unfortunately, the first guests to leave were already locked into a menu due to the make-ahead constraints of the lunch/open house day.  (See "A Moveable Feast" blog).  We had chicken marsala, which holds up surprisingly well after freezing.

  The second night, the request was for my egg rolls. With two primo assistants--manned with paper towels--this turned out to be the easiest batch I've ever made.  The recipe follows.  But first, a word about hospitality.  Letting guests request menu items was an impulsive gesture that I instantly (but not permanently) regretted.  You see, I had an entire notebook of recipes, divided into categories: already made and frozen, dead-set on serving, and alternates.  For example, I had at least 5 different pancake recipes.  Hours of research and grocery shopping accompanied this nobebook.  In fact, I was so proud of it that I hid it from my family, fearing it might convey a food obsession of some sort.   What possessed me to disregard the notebook and invite requests, I can't say.  But after the first invite, two more had to follow. 

Once again, focusing on the guests and not the plan, proved delicious and delightful.  Two packages of egg roll skins later, we had about 40+ hot, crisp egg rolls.  Six were raced over to our neighbors.  For dinner, the seven of us ate a bunch with rice and stir-fried vegetables.  Mysteriously, only two were left the next morning.  My only regret is that I had no  idea that their father was looking forward to eating those egg rolls at the lunch the day before.  Next time, I promise!

Egg Rolls...simplified and doubled 
In a food processor, finely chop and put into bowls enough to produce the following:
#1. 1 c. celery and 1 1/2 c. cabbage (I cheat and buy a bag of shredded slaw.)
#2. 1 c. shrimp and 1 c. pork (I buy a package of breakfast sausage.)
#3. 8 scallions, 2 cans water chestnuts, 2 minced garlic cloves

In 1 c. water, bring to a boil mixture #1.  Cook until tender, wilted (about 5 mins.) Drain.
Heat 6 TBLS oil and cook mixture #2 until the pork is cooked (about 5 mins.).
To that pan, add mixture #3 with 1/2 c. soy sauce, cooking for 5 more minutes.
Chill. You can freeze the combined cooked mixes at this point if you wish.
Deposit about 1/4 c. (or slightly less) of the chilled mixture in the center of the egg roll skin, roll, and seal by brushing with a flour-water slurry.  Fry in peanut oil at 375 degrees. Serve with sweet and sour sauce or hot mustard.  Enjoy!

Look for photos of the egg roll production and product, "Kitchen Adventures: Holiday Food Porn Edition"

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"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - from A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf